Government mulls over move to ease LDP congestion By SIM LEOI LEOI and BRIAN MARTIN KUALA LUMPUR: Lower toll for using the highway during off-peak hours – that is one of the options the Government is considering to ease the congestion on the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP). Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed said with lower toll, users would be encouraged to stagger their journeys and lessen the congestion during peak hours. “For instance, drivers will be given rebates if they leave earlier in the morning for work,” he said Thursday during Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat here. He was replying to a question by Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian. Hee said that despite having to pay RM1.60 toll, motorists complained that the highway was congested. When contacted later, Mohd Zin said having peak and off-peak toll rates was one of three options the ministry was looking at to solve the congestion problem of the LDP. Another option the ministry was looking at was the implementation of a “multilane toll collection system” where vehicles did not need to stop to pay toll, he said. “A lot of congestion was caused by cars slowing down when they need to pay toll. With the multilane system which uses infrared rays like the one used in Australia, cars can maintain their speed,” he said. Mohd Zin said the last option was the “realignment” of the LDP. However, he said this was a “last resort” because realignment would incur very high costs due to land acquisition. Mohd Zin said the proposals were part of the ministry’s review of the country’s privatised expressways. He said he was giving the LDP a lot of attention because it was one of the most congested among privatised expressways. “The LDP’s volume is very high and many motorists have complained about congestion,” he said. The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca), however, felt that the suggestion to lower toll rates during off-peak hours for those using the LDP was not practical. Its secretary-general Muhammad Shaani Abdullah said traffic woes would not be solved by lowering tolls during off-peak hours. “We cannot expect the people to leave for work at 5am and get home at 2am. “It just does not make sense. What we need is proper traffic management and better enforcement,” he said. Mohd Zin also told the Dewan Rakyat that from 1999 until 2006, the Government paid some RM480.54mil to subsidise toll on the LDP as drivers were paying RM1 when it should have been RM1.50. “From Jan 1, 2007, the Government paid out about RM150mil in subsidy when the toll was RM1.60 when it should have been RM2.10,” he said. Mohd Zin said the Government did not pay any subsidy for the New Pantai Expressway because its toll rates have never been restructured.